Tag Archives: Africa

Netherlands court strikes down Dutch grifter’s patent claim over Ethiopia’s ancient staple grain teff

13 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory( TEO)

Teff is one of the oldest grains to have been cultivated, a staple for so long that its original cultivation date is lost to history and can only be estimated at between 1000 and 4000 BCE; it is best known as the main ingredient in injera, the soft pancakes that are served with Ethiopian meals.

In 2003, a Dutch human named Jans Roosjen filed a patent on teff, claiming to have invented it, and demanding a halt to virtually every means of preparing the grain. Roosjen ran an agronomy corporation that partnered with the Ethiopian government to market teff in Europe, which then went bankrupt after paying Ethopia a mere €4000. But before the bankruptcy, Roosjen and his company had filed their patent application by lying and claiming that the manner used for storing and processing teff was a novel invention.

As the patent holder for teff, Roosjen struck lucrative deals with other EU companies — and froze Ethiopia and its people out of access to European markets. Ethiopia itself lacked the resources to invalidate Roosjen’s patent, so it remained in force until Roosjen threatened another Dutch company for making teff without paying him for a license. Roosjen’s patent was invalidated in 2014, and this week, the deadline for an appeal passed, meaning that the patent is now permanently dead.

Intellectual property is a grifter’s best friend: grifters aren’t mere con artists, they’re the impressarios of immersive LARPs in which you are guided to signing contracts that say that everything you own is really something you misappropriated from them, and by continuing to use your stuff, you are nothing but a lawless cur.

The connection between IP trolling and settler colonialism is strong and not coincidental. If you’re going to claim that something everyone is using belongs to no one, then it helps if the people you’re misappropriating have no access to power or justice. In some ways, Roosjen is just Aloha Poke, by another name — a scam that steals an ancient foodstuff, and not just an ancient word.

The furor over the teff ownership comes at a time when Africans are increasingly raising questions about creative and artistic theft, cultural appropriation, and pushing to reclaim their narrative. This is especially being amplified by the internet and social media, where online petitions are agitating for change, including most recently on Disney’s trademarking of the Swahili phrase “Hakuna Matata.”

Following the controversy of French and American companies trying to trademark rooibos tea, South Africa sought and won a “geographic indicator status” over the product, meaning goods made in the country and approved by the government could only use the name. In Kenya, Benin, Nigeria, and beyond, artists and museum curators are also seeking the return of looted artifacts kept in Western museums across the world.

/Boing Boing (blog)

 

Related:

How Ethiopia lost control of its teff genetic resources: Lessons to be learned

Risks of Ethiopia losing its natural resources: The case of teff as example

Crisis in Ethiopia — the land of the economic miracle gone wrong

3 Jan

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Null Jan Philipp Wilhelm, DW
 

Unrest has plagued Ethiopia for the past two years. So what’s going on? The reasons are complicated.

Journalist Martin Plaut considers this to be the beginning of the problems facing modern Ethiopia. “The TPLF and Meles Zenawi were never prepared to allow democracy and real federalism,” he told DW. But the focus on ethnic differences in the constitution has not been without consequence:”As soon as you increase the focus on ethnicity and make ethnicity the basis of the state, you basically stoke up ethnic tensions,” said Plaut.
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American writer urges the U.S. to stop promoting fake democracy in Ethiopia

30 Sep

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 
(ESAT) — American writer Dr. Helen Epstein, known among many Ethiopians for her hard-hitting article, “Cruel Ethiopia”, which detailed the brutal rule of Meles Zenawi and the TPLF, says that the United States should reconsider promoting fake democracy in countries like Ethiopia.


 
Dr. Epstein said the tyrannical TPLF regime is a roadblock to democratization and progress. She noted cannot be reformed and called upon the U.S. to stop supporting the TPLF regime and its corruption and tyranny.

Dr. Epsten, who recently published a new book, Another Fine Mess, talked to ESAT on a range of issues related politics in the Great Lake region and Ethiopia.
 

Ethiopia’s ranking on World Justice Index embarrassing, both its global & regional standings!

5 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

Ethiopia’s ranking in World Justice Report in 2016


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China’s approach to Africa takes on a harder edge

5 Apr

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Jennifer Staats & Anna Stahl, US Institute of Peace, March 31, 2017
 
China, in seeking to protect its projects and people in Africa, is boosting its military engagement on the continent, supporting multilateral peacekeeping operations and national forces that help improve overall stability. China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti—which a senior U.S. commander said this week creates “operational concerns” in the area—is only the latest and most visible indicator of the country’s stepped up security presence in Africa.
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Ethiopia: Human Rights Leadership at the UN Security Council Requires Human Rights at Home

28 Jul

Editor’s Note:

If, on the recommendation of the African Union (AU) to the United Nations General Assembly, Burundi under the balky Pierre Nkurunziza who broke the laws in the constitution of that country, seized power and began killing his people to remain president, was selected a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 15, 2015, all the same Ethiopia under the murderous TPLF regime becoming a member of the United Nations Security Council is no longer anything unusual.

In common both are clienteles of the United States because of their anti-terrorism role they take in Somalia, fighting the equally murderous Al-Shabab. Therefore, it has been a while since the whole rationale behind international diplomacy has been denoting irrelevance of the system of international cooperation and international collaboration in many respects, wherein the United Nations no longer is the august assembly of Nations with moral and legal authority it once was presumed it would be.

Read what Ethiopia’s retired army chief of staff wrote recently: Ethiopia already is on fire. The solution is expedited reform or implosion. Ethiopians have begun resisting the criminal Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF) misgovernance of the country and its murderous escapades in Oromia & Amhara, among others, at this very moment as you read this. Unarmed youth protestors are being shot in the streets and parents protecting their children are also massacred along with their children on a daily basis!

In spite of this, we have heard a leader of the Western world telling us the “Government of Ethiopia is democratically elected“; and billionaires in the likes of Bill Gates reminding us days ago how sovereign the TPLF regime is. They should have openly told us that the TPLF regime’s duty is to protect their interests, not our people and that of our nation’s!

Why then lecture the international community endlessly about the situation of human rights in North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Russia, or Venezuela, etc?

Where is our world and human civilization headed?

 

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Adotei Akwei and Nicole Southard
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IMF Lagarde’s Lecture on‘Decisive Action to Secure Durable Growth’

5 Apr

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

Describing the state of the global economy in her well-received Lecture of Tuesday April 5, 2016 at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde set out, without being sufficiently convincing, to assure a concerned populace and governments that “the recovery continues; we have growth; we are not in a crisis.”
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“Closing Africa’s Digital Gap”:         Why is Bill Gates amazed about Africa’s laggard status, knowing full well what has gone wrong?

13 Feb

Editor’s Note:

    Yes, Africa is at the tail end of nations in every respect, notwithstanding the slight indicators that seemed to raise hope for almost all nations, after the end of the Cold War. Before that, Africa struggled for unrealizable goals, only growth to elude it simply because it was a battlefield for the big powers and the rivalries between Eastern and Western nations.
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